Twenty Years History of the HFCO through the eyes of the present chair, Liz Shepherd

Looking through the archives of photographs we have in the HFCO files it has made me realise how many people have been involved with the organisation over the years, not to mention the many and varied activities our membership has got up to.

Starting with the inception of the idea, brought to us by Kevin Curley, the first director of Hull Council for Voluntary Service. As there were only three established Community Centres and three Embryonic Community Associations in 1980/81 I don’t think even Kevin would have anticipated the rollercoaster ride the organisation has gone through over it’s twenty years history. People involved at that time who come to mind are Doug Revell of course, our first chair, the Preston Road ‘gang’ Paul and Karen Spooner and Barry Andrews, Spring Bank Community Action members Alf Scott, Bob Finch & co, Clive Metheringham from Orchard Park Community Association. It was a very exciting time as ‘community work’ had not really been heard of in Hull and the stimulation gained from working together towards one aim was very inspiring.

In the early days we were serviced by Kevin from the CVS but he was determined we would become independent and found funding for us to employ a development worker and a part time Administrator. So along came Roslyn Abbott and Wendy Green.

The organisation grew over the years with the growth in community centres around the city. Hull was very lucky to get funding for four purpose-built community centres through Urban Funding and Sports Development but many Community Associations would identify a building in their area and lobby the council for possession. Which is why we have such a varied selection of building around the city.

Did you know that Gipsyville and Bilton Grange Community Associations started out in Council houses, Drypool Green C.A. took over a derelict building and rebuilt it

almost from scratch by themselves, Preston Road Community Action Group took over a decontamination shelter which was being used as storage by the Fire Service. If there were a half-suitable building in the area a community association would see the potential for it.

Did you know that we once had a staff of six? Three of these were funded from …?, Shirley Evans, Ian Ward and Steve …?.  Keith Johnson was also employed as an early type of sports development worker and he helped organise special events. We also employed Terry Taylor who worked in partnership (yes, even in those days) with Lesley Hepworth at Hull CVS, to look at support for people who were full time carers and so the Carers Support Group was formed.

Things slowed down coming in to the nineties, we lost our funding and after a long, unsuccessful fight with the council, we had to make Roslyn redundant.

The organisation has carried on and hopefully supported our members as best we could. Wendy Green moved on to better pay and a more hours at North Hull Woman’s Group and is now running the Garths Resource Centre (with the help of Mary McGarry). Julia Murrey then came to us from working as a volunteer at HULL DOC and fitted in very well. After lending her to New Deal on Preston Road she was offered full time employment by them so who could blame her for leaving us? We then took on Sue Mellors who was working at Victoria Dock Village Hall so they were not very happy with us. I, for one, am hoping she will stay with us for some time to come.

The different activities the members of the HFCO have been involved in over the years are many and varied. We organised our own Carnival on the green space on Portland Street, we took part in Hull Show by having our own arena for displays and competitions between members, we had a ten-year celebration called the Link Day when all organisations put on entertainment in their own centre during the day and then all got together at the North Hull Community Centre in the evening – we even had the Link Day song written and recorded by Keith Wardale and Danny Richardson. We had trips out of town to see how other community groups were organised – this gave birth to Hull Community Transport and the HFCO Community Link Company. The first became successful; the second went into dormancy after two years of trying to come up with an idea to make money for our members.

The Quiz nights were a great success, started by Danny Richardson, helped (or hindered) by Tony Dearing and taken over by the HFCO management committee. They are still going strong and it is good way of members getting to know each other in an informal setting.

More recently we have entered a lorry in the Lord Mayors Parade three years running, been involved in both Red-Hot Fiesta Days, had a trip to Carlisle to see how their community centres were joined up electronically by the council. We always manage to get a good contingent attending the Community Matters Annual Conference every year and everyone who goes enjoys the three days away, finding it very beneficial.

As well as the above we get involved in the more practical tasks such as attending meetings with City Vision, Hull City Council and HULL DOC. The HFCO offer training courses for the members and other community groups on ‘Managing your Community Building’ and ‘Basic Bookkeeping for Community Groups’.

It is an opportune time for me, to be looking both to the future as well as to the past, as I will be standing down from the management committee of the HFCO this year. I am optimistic about the organisations future and hope that funding can be found for employing workers to support our membership, sooner rather than later.

History of the HFCO

HFCO and what it does

The HFCO is a network of community organisations, neighbourhood groups, voluntary and statutory organisations with a concern for improving local conditions, neighbourhood services and leisure time activities.  The HFCO works with the local authority in the best interests of it’s members.

The HFCO was formally founded on 14 September 1982 at an inaugural meeting held at Lonsdale Community Centre.  The early 1980’s saw an upsurge of interest in ‘community’ and Hull CVS brought together a nucleus of six community groups which formed the Community Centres Forum, this in turn became the HFCO.  Hull CVS serviced this group until the HFCO became independent when it obtained its own staff through an Inner City Grant in May 1985.  Today there are at least 30 community organisations in membership of the HFCO.

  1949  ONE community centre in Hull. (North Hull, 37th Avenue)
  1974  The newly established Humberside County Council substantially increases costs for use of schools.  Users seek alternative accommodation.
  1979  THREE community centres in Hull. (37th Ave, Spring Bank, Mitchell)
  1980  Hull CVS brings together a nucleus of six community groups to form the Community Centres Forum.  All wanted community buildings.  (Drypool Green, Orchard Park, Newington, Preston Road, Edinburgh Street, Coltman Area Residents).
  1981  The Community Centres Joint Working Party is formed, involving the Community Centres Forum and the City and County Councils.
  1982  Official inauguration of HFCO with a membership of six community associations.  Doug Revell, a community development worker based at 37th Avenue, was a founder member and Chairperson.  He kept in touch with the HFCO until his death in November 2002.
  1983  The City Council adopts its strategy for the Development of Community Facilities in consultation with the HFCO.  (Looking at providing 30 community centres across the city).
  1985  HFCO obtains funding for a part-time organiser who is appointed in May.  (Roslyn Abbott) By September staff numbers have increased to three.  (Keith, Kate)
  1986  In June a full-time Community Development Worker is appointed. (Terry Taylor) and a part time clerk/receptionist (Wendy Green).   Hull CVS provides three part-time Community Programme workers, (Ian Ward, Ian Wilkinson, Karen Brennan), for a one-year period.    
  1992  10th Anniversary celebrated with Community Link Up Day
  1994  Hull City Council cut funding resulting in loss of Community Development Worker and reduced administrative support.  HFCO once again almost a totally volunteer run organisation.
  2001  HFCO successful in its bid to become part of Community Matters Millennium Volunteer programme and appoints a project co-ordinator for 12 hours per week to work with young volunteers in several community centres.
  2004  The Millennium Volunteer project continues for another two years with a new project co-ordinator involving additional community centres.
  2004  Full time Community Centre Support Worker appointed in January (Janine White) funded by Big Lottery.
  2006  In January of this year Hull City Council took over the funding of the Community Centre Support Worker. 

Today the HFCO has in excess of 30 community centres in membership, as well as statutory bodies, other voluntary organisations, and a few individuals

Over the years, and particularly in its early days, the HFCO took part in many social events including the Summer Spectacular at East Park which became Hull Show, the Lord Mayor’s Parade, and more recently the Red-Hot Fiesta.  Still taking place today are the social Quiz Nights, introduced by Danny Richardson, Keith Wardale, and Tony Dearing originally more than 20 years ago.

The Community Matters Annual Conference is also regularly attended by representatives from Hull and members of the HFCO have represented us on the National Executive.